Remembrance for All

October 31, 1994

The decision on how to combat the desecration of Baltimore's Holocaust Memorial is not an easy one. Leaders of the Jewish community, who erected it 14 years ago, have decided to alter the design and move it to a more conspicuous location on its tract at Lombard and Gay streets. By adopting a more open design, it will be less vulnerable to vandals and worse who infest its corners at night The question is whether that will be sufficient.

The memorial, erected by the Jewish community, serves several purposes. It is the shrine for Holocaust survivors and their descendants, who have no other place at which to mourn the 6 million who died in Nazi concentration camps a half century ago. Survivors who live in the Baltimore area and their children overwhelmingly prefer the present site. By moving a redesigned memorial from the Water Street side to Lombard Street, they believe, the monument would no longer be so susceptible to desecration.

Views of the survivors, those with the most personal stake in the memorial, deserve strong consideration. They like having it at an accessible site downtown and are comfortable with the location near ample parking and police headquarters. Most visit the memorial through the year, not just on the annual Day of Remembrance. The prevailing opinion among leaders of the Jewish community defers to the preference of the survivors and their offspring. Should that close the issue?

That is where another of the memorial's functions enters the discussion. It is also a vital reminder to Baltimoreans and visitors who were not personally touched by the Holocaust of one of the greatest horrors in human history. The Holocaust was overwhelmingly a Jewish calamity, but it was also the world community's tragedy. We all, not just the Jewish community, need to remember.

The Lombard Street site is not highly visible to the general public. There is not a lot of foot traffic in that area except when people are rushing to and from work. Cars speed by in large numbers, but Lombard Street's function as a major thoroughfare leaves little margin for sideward glances.

Under the circumstances, the survivors and Jewish community leaders ought to seek another, more visible, downtown location. City planners are rethinking much of the Inner Harbor's surroundings. There must be a more suitable site so that future generations, with and without personal links to the Holocaust, will always reflect on that stain on world history.

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